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Japanese Crab: A Guide to the Most Popular Crab Species in Japan

Japanese Crab: A Guide to the Most Popular Crab Species in Japan

If you're a seafood lover, you might have heard of Japanese crab. The Japanese crab, also known as the horsehair crab, is a type of marine crab that is found in the Pacific Ocean, particularly in the waters around Japan. It is one of the largest crabs in the world and is highly valued for its sweet and delicate meat.

The Japanese crab is a fascinating creature that has captured the attention of many people around the world. In this article, we will explore the biology and appearance of the Japanese crab, its habitat and conservation status, and answer some frequently asked questions about this amazing creature.

Key Takeaways

  • Japanese crab is a large marine crab found in the Pacific Ocean, particularly in the waters around Japan.
  • The Japanese crab is highly valued for its sweet and delicate meat.
  • The Japanese crab is an interesting creature that has captured the attention of many people around the world.

Biology and Appearance

A Japanese crab with red-orange shell and long, spindly legs scuttling along the sandy ocean floor

Physical Characteristics

The Japanese spider crab, also known as Macrocheira kaempferi, is a species of marine crab that is native to the waters surrounding Japan. This crustacean is the largest of all crabs and has the largest known leg span of any arthropod, measuring up to 3.7 meters. The body of this crab can grow to a width of 40 cm and can weigh up to 19 kg, making it second in mass only to the American lobster among all living arthropod species.

The Japanese spider crab has a spherical and elongated body with a reddish-brown exoskeleton that protects its internal organs. The carapace, or shell, is broader in front and narrows towards the back. The crab's most distinctive characteristic is its long and thin ten legs, which are used for locomotion and are covered in fine hairs that help it sense its environment.

Species and Classification

The Japanese spider crab belongs to the family Inachidae and is classified as an arthropod under the scientific classification of Animalia. This crab is omnivorous and feeds on a variety of marine organisms, including echinoderms, molluscs, crustaceans, and worms.

Reproduction and Lifespan

The mating season for Japanese spider crabs occurs in the spring, during which males and females will mate and fertilized eggs are laid. The male crab will transfer a spermatophore to the female's body, which she will use to fertilize her eggs. The eggs will then hatch into larvae and go through several zoeal stages before reaching the megalopa stage.

The Japanese spider crab has a lifespan of up to 100 years and is known for its parental care towards its fertilized eggs. The female crab will carry her eggs on her abdomen until they hatch, and she will continue to care for her larvae until they are able to fend for themselves.

Overall, the Japanese spider crab is a fascinating and unique creature that is known for its impressive size and appearance. Its ability to blend in with its surroundings through camouflage and the use of decorator crabs is also a testament to its adaptability in the marine environment.

Habitat and Conservation

A rocky shore with tidal pools, seaweed, and small caves. Japanese crabs scuttle among the rocks, while birds circle overhead

Environmental Adaptations

The Japanese spider crab is a unique species that has adapted to survive in the harsh conditions of the Pacific Ocean. They are found in the waters around Japan, where they live at depths of up to 600 metres. These crabs are able to survive in these depths due to their strong exoskeleton, which provides protection from predators and allows them to scavenge for food on the ocean floor.

Threats and Protection

Despite their impressive adaptations, Japanese spider crabs are facing a number of threats. Overfishing is a major concern, as these crabs are highly sought after for their meat. In addition, their slow reproductive rate means that populations take a long time to recover from overfishing. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has not yet evaluated the conservation status of the Japanese spider crab, but catch of the species has declined in recent decades.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Japanese spider crabs are omnivores, feeding on a variety of prey including planktonic larvae, kelp, and other small marine organisms. They are also scavengers, feeding on dead animals that they find on the ocean floor. These crabs have a highly developed sense of smell, which they use to locate food in the dark depths of the ocean.

Conservation efforts are needed to protect the Japanese spider crab from overfishing and other threats. By reducing fishing pressure and protecting their habitat, we can ensure that these fascinating creatures continue to survive in the waters around Japan.

Frequently Asked Questions

A colorful Japanese crab surrounded by question marks and a crowd of curious onlookers

What's the difference between Japanese crabs and king crabs?

Japanese crabs are a type of snow crab that are native to Japan. They are smaller than king crabs, which are found in the waters around Alaska and Russia. Japanese crabs have a sweeter and more delicate flavour than king crabs.

How much does a Japanese crab typically cost?

The price of a Japanese crab varies depending on the size and location. Generally, they can range from £20 to £100 per kilogram.

Where's the best place to buy Japanese crabs?

The best place to buy Japanese crabs is at a local fish market. In Japan, there are many fish markets where you can buy fresh seafood, including Japanese crabs. If you're not in Japan, you can try looking for Japanese crabs at specialty seafood markets or online seafood retailers.

What species of crabs are native to Japan?

There are several species of crabs that are native to Japan, including the Japanese spider crab, snow crab, blue crab, and red king crab.

How large can Japanese spider crabs get?

Japanese spider crabs are the largest arthropods in the world and can grow up to 3.8 meters from claw to claw. However, the average size of a Japanese spider crab is around 1 meter.

Are Japanese crabs safe to eat?

Yes, Japanese crabs are safe to eat as long as they are cooked properly. Raw or undercooked crabs can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause foodborne illness. It is important to make sure that the crab is cooked to an internal temperature of 75°C before eating.